‘Most challenging winter we’ve ever seen’: Boston restaurant owners facing outdoor dining deadline

BOSTON (WHDH) - When it’s below freezing, not even the heat lamps will bring hardy New Englanders to outdoor dining tables.

Boston restaurant owners are facing a fast-approaching outdoor dining deadline. Come Dec. 1, many restaurants will not be able to have tables set up along public sidewalks and streets.

“I think this is the most challenging winter we’ve ever seen,” Urban Hospitality owner Chris Coombs said.

On one of the first cold days of the season, chairs were empty outside his Back Bay French eatery.

He is just one of many bracing for a tough season ahead as temperatures drop and COVID-19 cases rise.

“Many have been laid off. Many more are going to continue to be laid off as we see further restriction and reduction of business,” he said. “But, we all have to get through this together and hopefully there will still be some kind of restaurant business on the other side of this.”

South End’s Boston Chops is in a similar situation as are many restaurants in the North End that have been using parking spots to keep up business.

“To tell you the truth, I’m a little scared,” restauranter Frank DePasquale said. “The weather is changing and there goes our outside seating. And honestly, I see tough times.”

DePasquale owns several restaurants on Hanover Street and said he and other business owners are looking to the government to step up with more financial aid.

“We paid a lot of expenses for all the plexiglass that we bought. And all the outside furniture. And the barricades and this, to make it look good. And we’ve kept this neighborhood very clean with power washing,” DePasquale said. “It’s about time we get some more PPP money to get us by just til we get this vaccine.”

Until a vaccine is approved and distributed, Coombs and DePasquale are hoping customers keep them afloat in what could be a long and dark winter.

“We’re here, we’re open. And we’re begging for your business. And we hope to survive this,” DePasquale said.

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